STATEMENT: Community Comes Together for Women's Center of Brevard Event
Local advocates attending in support will provide education on women's rights and transgender understanding
MELBOURNE, FL — Annually, the Women’s Center conducts a fundraising event called “Dude Looks Like a Lady”. Notable community leaders from Brevard County dress up as their favorite heroine to raise money for a worthy cause.
Initially, the publicity of this event set a tone that demeaned women and marginalized the transgender community. Men in drag, even for a worthy cause, can often be misinterpreted.
"As many of you may be aware we have had some publicity this year, questioning the efficacy of the Dude Looks Like a Lady theme," said Dr. Jenny Gessler, Ph.D. and Executive Director of the Women’s Center. "For those of you who have attended past events and those who know the work of the Women’s Center, you realize that it is never our intention to hurt, insult or ridicule anyone, at any time. So, we were eager to start an open and honest dialogue with Equality Florida, Speak Out Brevard, Space Coast Pride, and the National Organization for Women."
“We are pleased to announce members of those organizations will be attending this year’s event in support of our common cause, and have agreed to work with us to maintain a respectful and inclusive tone. We ask you to visit their tables in the lobby to learn more, and ask that we all try harder to keep the lines of communication open with those who differ from, or disagree with, our own positions. Getting to know each other breaks down the barriers of discrimination, eliminates hate, and most importantly, it gives people the confidence to ask for help, which is what we have all come here to provide," Dr. Gessler added.
After meeting with the Women’s Center, Gina Duncan, Director of Transgender Equality, issued this statement:
"Equality Florida is pleased to be a part of this year’s Women's Center fundraising event themed 'Dude Looks Like a Lady.' We are also pleased to be joined by Speak Out Brevard, Space Coast Pride, and the National Organization for Women in shining a light on a good cause for a valuable organization.
We shine this light with a lens focused on respect, inclusion, and embracing diversity. Initially, the theme of this event was interpreted as demeaning to women and harmful to transgender understanding. After an honest, sincere, and thoughtful discussion, we believe that is not the intent of the organizers of this event. And, by providing a platform for awareness and education of transgender issues and women's rights at the event, we are creating an inclusive event for all involved. We hope this civil discourse will continue beyond the event and that we will learn more about each other in the coming days.
Our differences make us stronger and embracing our diversity with dignity and respect, makes us a community."